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“E-marketplaces should have transparent discounts policy”

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI), in a report released on Wednesday, has suggested that online marketplaces should come up with clear and transparent policies on discounts provided on products on their their platforms.
“Bring out clear and transparent policies on discounts, including inter alia the basis of discount rates funded by platforms for different products/suppliers and the implications of participation/non-participation in discount schemes,” the CCI said in the ‘Market Study on E-Commerce in India’.
The suggestion gains significance as discounts on online platforms have been a long disputed matter among both conventional offline traders and the e-commerce majors. Traders of brick and mortar shops have been protesting under the aegis of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) against what they call ‘deep’ discounts on e-commerce platforms, more so, during the sales seasons which these platforms organise.
According to the traders’ body, the discounts on the online platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart are predatory in nature and the government should ensure price parity in online and offline markets.
Regarding data privacy of customers, the anti-trust body asked the online platforms to bring out a transparent policy on data collected.
“Set out a clear and transparent policy on data that is collected on the platform, the use of such data by the platform and also the potential and actual sharing of such data with third parties or related entities,” the report said.
The commission also said that adequate transparency over user review and rating mechanisms is necessary for ensuring information symmetry, which is a prerequisite for fair competition.
Adequate transparency should be maintained in publishing and sharing user reviews and ratings with the business users and reviews for only verified purchases are to be published and mechanisms to be devised to prevent fraudulent reviews and ratings, as per the commission findings.
Further, it also asked the players to notify the business users about any proposed changes in terms and conditions and said that the proposed changes should not be implemented before the expiry of a notice period, which is reasonable and proportionate to the nature and extent of the envisaged changes and to their consequences for the business user concerned.

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